I suspect I am a bit inattentive to signs. If I were more sensitive to them, perhaps it would take one slightly less dramatic than exploding candles to get me to take notice. I can’t say if the gods always give me plenty of chances to recognize when they’re telling me something, or if they’ve given me up as hopeless and thus go straight for the fireworks every time; all I can say for sure is that my wife had to vacuum up a big ol’ mess a couple of mornings ago after my Hestia candle exploded.
There are valid, technical reasons for what happened. I prefer what are called seven-day candles, the ones that about a foot tall and encased in glass. I can’t always find them locally and they’re expensive to ship, so I have taken to refilling the empties. It’s a good deal, because I can add offerings directly into the wax while I’m at it. However, I’m still pretty new at this, and I haven’t quite mastered the art (or found exactly the right hardware) to keep the wick centered all the way down, and during the pour. About two inches from the bottom, this particular wick got way too close to the glass, and pow!
On the other hand, when your hearth-goddess candle explodes, it’s probably best to consider other possibilities. As it happens, I was overdue to celebrating my little festival of the lilies, which I had previously agreed to hold on the fifth of the month. I’ve been watching them bloom, and having a deer visit the yard to eat them several times wasn’t enough for me to realize I should be getting on with offering these flowers to the gods. Whoops. Guess they’ve been working on more subtle signs for me after all.
This year I’ve also been occupied by this cool new Hermes artifact, which I have been industriously oiling so that it can live outside in the four seasons as part of my shrine to him. That’s going to have to be an annual thing, evocative of various rituals that involve washing and dressing of sacred statues. Ergo, I’m going to be adding “oiling of the Hermes hunk [of iron]” to this festival of lilies. That actually makes it more legitimately a festival, because I now have two different activities to perform over its course. The oiling itself could take several days, although since this was the first time I can’t be certain what next year might bring.
In any case, the other day I went ahead and celebrated my little festival, which still deserves a nifty name. I am completely supportive of we English speakers use English words when we name festivals and English words of description when we explore new epithets, but darn it, I want this to have a Greek name. Since I can — so far as I know — accurately pronounce about six words in Greek and can read about half a dozen fewer than that, this dream may be one that is forestalled. Noble Sannion was helpful in directing me to a lexicon, but until I find the time to learn how to pronounce all of the letters it’s not going to do me that much good. I’m mostly resigned to the fact that I’m an expert in my native language and mostly ignorant of all others, but hey, specialization isn’t so bad, right, Hermes?
Over the rolling two-tenths of an acre upon which my home sits are a few outdoor shrines; in addition to the aforementioned Hermes one I maintain a space for Artemis and another for Poseidon Phytalmius, in addition to a general altar. Inside are my main Hestia and Poseidon shrines. I made offerings of wine, tiger lilies, and incense to all those gods as well as Zeus, Hera, Athene, Ares, Hephaistos, Aphrodite, Apollon, Dionysos, and Demeter.
Obviously — finally obviously — it becomes clear to me that offering these flowers, which are in bloom all over the Hudson Valley at this time of year, is pleasing to the gods, and that they have come to expect it. This year, it marks a happy high point that will be followed about a week later with the Vigil for the Bulls, an observance for Poseidon Taureos created by Jolene Poseidonae that I will be performing for the first time this year. I’m expecting it to be markedly less cheerful, but I can’t say much more beyond that until I’ve done it at least once.
In the meantime, I’m hoping that the gods don’t have to tear down my house to get my attention in the future.